THE SPHINX - Chapter 1 ?BRUSHSTROKE SUNRISE
The woodpecker was incensed. His tight perm limp and flushed. Why did his state appointed analyst have to be so bloody patronizing? Did he really expect Woody to believe that since being ‘re-assigned’ to a concrete pole, that his splitting headaches had nothing at all to do with literally beating his head up against a wall? Surely part of the reason he were assigned to the concrete pole was to punish him for the grave sin of being a woodpecker in a forest wanted for its natural riches, and noticing that from day to day, there seemed less rhythm coming from the trees, fewer other ‘woodies’ stopping by to chat and share seed information. Fewer places to raise the continuation of their tribe under protected forest canopies. One day, Woody found himself simply relocated to the very back of the forest, attached by his ankle to a tall single grey concrete pole. And he would pay dearly from then on for the crime of being a woody who cared about the lives of other woodies, as well as the cardinal sin of having awakened to the destruction of his natural habitat and not being a Cardinal. So says Doctor Deemus:
“But there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the idea that your headaches, no matter how fierce, are caused by your extrapolations on your home pole. So you must get this idea out of your head. As your doctor, I must say that I fear the head pain is caused more by your belief than it is by your pecking habits”. Great, thought Woody, yet another who knows my own mind before I even get a chance to unravel it for them. And he never listens really, but just waits for openings to inform me of what my next thought should be, or the ‘appropriate response’. “How are you getting on with the medications?” asked the doctor. ‘I am woozy much of the time and finding it hard to sleep all of the way through my sleep cycle. Last night, I dreamed that I found a Scottish burr in my saddle’. A bit distracted, the doctor then replied, “Oh, I see, that was a pun, very good. It shows progress towards positive thinking when you see the humour in your condition”. ‘No, doctor, literally, I dreamed that my saddle had a burr in it, though it spoke with a thick Scottish brogue.
I am also still having those nuclear fission nightmares, where I am given only half a day to come up with the formula that will insure the lives of woodpeckers worldwide, but I have a block, and can’t for the life of me remember the formula, and I always wake up in a cold sweat. Which is weird because in the dream, I always seem to be wearing a cold sweater’. The doctor was nodding and patient, but in that way that suggests he felt vaguely superior to it all, that he was somehow better than the work he were bade by his intellect to endure, as were it charity work to be tackled on the way to sainthood, on behalf of those less fortunate and privileged than he. Those ‘nebbish-y’ (though more nebulous) guys who all want to be Wallace Shawn, but without an approximate Wallace Shawn skill set, at best the hairline, perhaps the slight hesitance of immediate posture beyond gravitational necessity. But certainly in no other way either to be considered ‘Wallacinian’ or ‘Shawn-esque’ as it goes. But they sure did hold down a leather arm chair in a nicely appointed office quite convincingly, even if mostly they just tried to keep you away from thoughts which may expose the callousness of the state’s operating mindset. The way it kept an ever sharp, eagle eye out for any of the forest inhabitants who cared to know what was going on, and who were simpleminded enough to believe that life was also as much about them, as it was about plans being constantly made for them by others. Doctor Deemus flat out looked at Woody and prescribed him a much stronger medication because “You have no business dreaming about nuclear fission. It cannot but confuse you. No wonder you are not resting well, for you are stressing your mind beyond its capacity”. And Woody had to swallow that. That bitter nonsense. The not so subtle attack on his intellectual ambitions. Surely if he were dreaming of something, ANYTHING, then clearly it were not beyond his imagination. And if he were dreaming it, it suggested that he DID understand it, he just DIDN’T GET IT. A big difference. He just had to remember what he already understood. Besides, if woodpeckers were not going around and trading nuclear secrets, it may well be that they had already evolved beyond it. It may well have been them and their species that blew up Mars. It may well be that the deserts of the world are there because of the time when woodpeckers were experimenting with their knowledge of all things nuclear, and that over time, as one might expect, they grew bored with it all and simply acknowledged to themselves that cracking a tree open with their rapid fire blasts was all in all a lot more enjoyable and productive, not to mention less of a threat to the environment. Naturally, in a human centric media, it is assumed that other species haven’t already been and passed through current human dilemmas. So here was Woody being laden with some other dulling chemical mechanism to place his consciousness under corporate house arrest. For the sin of having been attached to a mind that dreamt of unspeakable things, at least as far as preening overconfident psychoanalysts were concerned. Yet, they were careful never to prescribe for Woody, what might make him high. A chuckle-head. Glad -hearted, gaily embracing the day. No. Just those things which would keep him as dazed and out of alignment as possible, in order that momentum of thought be discouraged and to keep him close enough to pain. To arrest the sensation of liberation and the free thinking it arouses in inquisitive, confident, unthreatened minds. Woody thought to himself as he sat in front of his doctor, ‘After scaling the heights, the only place left to go is through it’. And he was correct. His migraines notwithstanding, he were still a creature of nature confined to a most unnatural life, and he were only allowed to be accompanied by those who were apologists for it and the state’s feckless brutality. Even most of the old Owls had up and moved away from the forest, which is never a good sign, when the owls leave. ‘Ever tried getting a lovely woodpecker chick to come swing by your pole for a bit of a ‘bash’? They never come back for a second date. Plus, where can I take them? There are no holes in my pole to hide in. I am chained when not in this office spilling my guts out, to a bloody grey concrete slab. Sexy? Romantic? I don’t think so’. The only thing left to the dignity of the woodpecker was to bide his time, wait for a slip up by forest security, and fly the coop as soon as the chance presented itself. And dodging snipers if he even got that far. Until the forest were behind him and no longer beneath him. When that time arrived, he were certain that he had only one destination which were of interest to him. Once free of these patronizing woods and its buzz, having been taken over by the chainsaws drowning out the bees, he would alight, with what will and might could take him there and begin his journey to the land of THE SPHINX. When sands and lightning converged, with Woody borne upon the air, he had some serious questions he wished to ask the Sphinx. If ever such a time should come. Dr. Deemus: “Woody, where did you just go? I asked you a question”. ‘Sorry doc, it’s the meds, I blank out from time to time. What was the question?’ Sighed the doctor from his long session, “You rather absentmindedly murmured something about THE ZOO-ATHALON. Tell me, what is that?” Woody, tired and pale, and ready to return to the relative security of his concrete pole, pinched one eye towards the doc and stated, ‘Woodpeckers do not have rhythm spasms only, as you call it. We also have our secrets’. “Perhaps (said Deemus), that is why you are experiencing the headaches, due to the deep secrets you keep hidden from yourself”.
‘With all due respect, doc, these secrets are being kept from you, not from myself and we are certain that our headaches are caused by my being sentenced to having to smash my noggin and beak against reinforced Portland cement, while being forced to eat genetically restructured bird seed. And maybe a few of these sessions’. The doctor was sure that upping the dosage to a stronger lithium content would smooth Woody’s ruffled feathers. Maybe even encourage pleasant dreams. The doctor’s training had been, ‘Pity ‘Em? More lithium!’ Woody was more sure that he had to find a way to escape the tedium of constantly monitored and belittled expectations and the notions and potions of denial, before he risked actually growing to appreciate what useful side there may be in having to drill one’s meditations straight into a spike with no pulse, no bounce, just intense and pure resistance. Not to mention what it did to a woodpeckers hairstyle. His moment, he just knew it, would come. And when he did, though none may gasp, all of time would know. Dorothy wanted to see the wizard. Woody, THE SPHINX.
We were going to go into a studio before the holiday season, with a view towards performing a few small selections as a gift to ears and as a farewell to a very welcoming year. The plan was to record a couple of piano pieces, while preparing to begin next year, with our THE SPHINX project. Plans have a way of mutating into different plans, so as soon as we finished this production, I turned to our lovely engineer, MATTEO SANDRI, and said to him, ‘Sergente’, somehow I think that this was the beginning of the next project.’ He looked at me with the nonchalance for which the recently married ‘Piemontese’ is known and replied, ‘OK’. I had felt an instinctive nudge from My spirit that this was indeed the way it wished to begin, almost by surprise. We offer this first chapter free, subsequent chapters will be mastered as we go to insure the highest sound representation immediately, in real time, and will reflect the variety of mood and tone, light, angles and shade that we feel emanating from the will of the portion of spirit which has made itself available to our own. There may even be a chapter perhaps dedicated more specifically to whatever ‘experimental’ approach we are inspired to present, though our main focus, as always, will be songs and how most truthfully to present them. I am excited about the prospect of this project, which has possessed me now for over 2 years. We are grateful to be working now exclusively for the music and not the whims of calculus and the books it keeps. We look forward to sharing with you the shapes that this project wrings forth from its process and do hope that you enjoy it in the spirit in which it is presented. As the ‘Sphinx’ projects to me, we will likewise promote to you. We wish you and your ears, and your overall life activities well. Welcome to BRUSHSTROKE SUNRISE!
The selections are:
1) Sananda's Variation on a theme by Mozart (1:45)
2) Sananda's Requiem (for our dead) (8:10)
3) Time Takes Time (Holidays Version) (2:45)
All songs written, produced, arranged and performed by Sananda F. Maitreya Engineered and Recorded by Matteo ‘Sergente’ Sandri. Mixed by Matteo and Sananda at Studio 75 in Milano, Italy on the 27/28 November 2009. Song 3 features the ‘I Had To Pull Some Strings’ Section. We thank them for their participation. Instruments used were a Yamaha Baby Grand, and a Roland Fantom X8. Thank you.
Notes about the selections:
The holidays are emotional times. These are emotional songs. At first, the Sphinx is silent!
These songs have been presented before. ‘Time takes Time’ first appeared on the ‘Angels and Vampires’ collection in a vocal version and different arrangement. While preparing this ‘suite’ at home, we had envisioned making the first 2 pieces as a unit, while presenting a 3 rd selection as a chamber piece, as I have always particularly liked chamber music and ‘hear’ it rather easily. We felt that the hymn like quality of the song leant itself to a chamber treatment. I can hear it now being played as a wedding march or as a holiday functionary. But we dream this way. Our ‘Requiem’ was first presented in 2004, though we have been agitating for several months now to ‘get back at it’ and do it from a more ripened perspective, it still being very fresh when first presented. Now we feel more emotionally prepared to present the piece with more reserve and detachment, though with what fire was needed in conveying the elements it sprung forth from. We dedicate this piece in particular to those who have suffered the wounds of war, scars both visible, and the even bigger ones that are naked to the eye, though of heavier weight to the scales of time. Finally, our take on one of my all time favourite pieces of music, the grand master MOZART’S Adagio from Piano Concerto No. 21 (if we are not mistaken, though if we are, then it must be Concerto No. 23). I can remember a time, while living in the desert of Los Angeles, when this piece stabilized my will to live. I can recall when it was literally a wellspring of faith for my spirit. Master Mozart’s music has a way of turning melancholy into soft clouds of victory. We offer this selection for those who at times, require a witness to the nobility of their pains. And though we do in moments scratch and claw, mainly we itch. To move on. To shake a tail-feather and go. At some point, in following our river of tears, we reach the precipice, whereby, in taking the leap of faith, that same river of sorrows becomes waterfalls of joy, slapping against even the hardest rocks, and wetting their expectations.
The initial plan was not to make these selections a part of the new project. But it did wind up that way. All subsequent pieces of music to be original presentations, unless otherwise inspired.
Thank you for how much enthusiasm has poured into my heart from yours that I may give it back to you. You give me the balloon, I twist it into a shape. An amusing one we hope, at least.
A special thanks to Alessandro Cocchia for the artwork and to Andrea Gorini at Studio 75 and to my wonderful staff at Treehouse Publishing.
At first The Sphinx is silent!
Sananda F. Maitreya
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